Race to Top, What is It?

NY Times

First of all, it is clear that the Feds want to gain control of the school system. I have mixed feelings about this: the school system is such a mess someone needs to get control of it – but I am suspicious of Arne Duncan’s motivations, and of his lack of teaching expertise. He seems to think that if our schools can be privatized, turned into businesses, only good things will happen.

This ignores the disastrous results of turning our economy over to the tender mercies of various industries, such as the financial industry. Letting them care for our children seems like an equally disastrous idea.

There are plenty of educators at the university level who have excellent qualifications, and their expertise should be used to reform the educational system, using Federal muscle – not some bureaucratic nobody with close ties to the military.


Success is Inhuman

This has been known since ancient times, but we keep forgetting it. Probably because we like being inhuman – or superhuman – or being ruled by superhuman forces – or supernatural forces. It all amounts to the same thing: we are eager to give away our power, and then serve this externalized power – instead of the doing more mundane work of taking care of ourselves.

We are, after all, the most amazing thing the universe has ever produced – but we seem determined to overlook this basic fact – and prove instead that we are the most perverse beings ever produced.

California’s Pipe Dream

National Geographic Interactive

Since I subscribe to the National Geographic, I got this in my email. As usual, when the Geographic does something, it does it right; the photography is spectacular. But for those who read the text, it is no less rewarding. Consider this:

The biggest and weakest link in the system is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a former 700,000 acre marsh that has been drained, diked into islands, and farmed for more than a century. Much of the land has subsided, and many islands now sit more than 20 feet below sea level, creating California’s own slice of Holland in the middle of the Central Valley.

A major earthquake – already overdue in the area – could take out hundreds of miles of levees in seconds, slashing water supplies for two-thirds of Californians.  Experts say it could take years to put California’s Humpty Dumpty hydraulics back together again.

Water is one thing I don’t have to worry about in the Orosi area, it rains here even during the dry season. But gringos have developed so much in its dry Northwest – that it too is running out of water and trying to pipe some water in for its golf courses (3000 gallons of water for each golf game played).

We Have Become so Enthralled with Technology, We Have Forgotten Ourselves

The primary definition of enthrall according to Merriam-Websters Unabridged Dictionary is:

1 : to hold in slavery : reduce to the condition of a slave

A thrall is:

1 a : a member of the lowest social class of ancient northern and especially Scandinavian Europe existing either as an accident of birth or as a result of capture in a state of slavery to a master or lord : a servant slave

Neil Postman, in his book Technopoly, or The Surrender of Culture to Technology (page 63) states:

Indeed, one way of defining a Technopoly is to say that its information immune system is inoperable. Technopoly is a form of cultural AIDS, which I use here as an acronym for Anti-Information Deficiency Syndrome. That is why is is possible to say almost anything without contradiction provided you say “A study has shown…” or “Scientists tell us that…” More important, it is why in a Technopoly there can be no transcendent sense of purpose or meaning, no cultural coherence. Information is dangerous when it has no place to go, when there is no theory to which it applies, no pattern in which it fits, when there is no higher purpose that is serves.

I am becoming more and more convinced that this is the central crisis of our times. Instead of our machines serving us, we now serve them. And no one has a clue this is going on.

The Restoration of Authority

One of the forces that formed the modern world was a rejection of authority: the authority of the Church, which had become incredibly corrupt. It was a rejection of authority and corruption at the same time.

The post-modern world has reversed this process: it has restored both authority and corruption for the same reason: because they are part of the same thing. Power has been restored to those in power, regardless of their abilities, and they have been quick to consolidate their power by the use of corruption. The oldest process in the world.

One religion, the medieval church, has been replaced with another, which has yet to be named, or recognized as a religion. But its main components are large business organizations which are authoritarian in nature. The trend is to make everything a business, or under the control of business, as much as possible. This includes the government and the schools.

The ultimate objective is clear: a new form of high-tech totalitarianism.

The Surface Self and the Deep Self

Many people refuse to believe in any deeper reality. They cannot conceive of anything more profound that the Evening News – which, after all, they see on a magic surface that tells them everything. Why should they want anything else?

As a result, they know nothing about people who are are good at polishing their image and hiding their true purposes. And these people are not uncommon – indeed they are often the most powerful people around – because they can easily manipulate people.

The Government is No Longer Us

This is not surprising, since there is no longer any us around. In our post-modern world, the only things that exist are images, or appearances. And there is no longer anything substantial behind those images. And what is there is destructive: self-destructive at the individual level and at any collective level.

I know I am not supposed to be saying this; no one is supposed to be saying this. People are only supposed to be saying nice, cheerful, uplifting things – as the world goes to hell in a hand-basket. And not only are they not supposed to be saying anything – they aren’t supposed to be anything either. Such is the nature of our times. And it won’t really hurt if some nut like me points this out. No one will believe me anyway.

Let us return to the subject of the government. At one time, when our nation was formed, this was considered the embodiment of the people. What else could it be? And the people who made it were real, substantial people. But after Abraham Lincoln, these people have been hard to find as industrialization has taken over.

Industrialization doesn’t need or want real people, it much prefers mediocre people with no agendas of their own who can take on the mantle of power and make it their own. Underneath that mantle there is not much of anything – just a feeble soul obsessed with amassing power, and being like everybody else.

And what does this collection of nobodies amount to? The same thing. But it does not exactly want anybody else pointing this out – or opposing it. It would come down on them like gangbusters. But at the same time it needs them: because by opposing them, it gave them an identity. Something they need very much. But I see I have forgotten the subject again: the government – and our attitude towards it.

This attitude can be summed up easily: hostility. We don’t like it. It represents ourselves, which we do not like either. What to do in this dilemma? The liberal solution is no longer adequate: simply fix it – because there is nothing there to fix. The only solution seems to be that demanded by the conservatives: destroy it. As one of them said “Drown it an a bathtub.”

What will be left? According to them: a perfect heaven, similar to that promised by the Third Reich. And Obama seems to be making similar promises. We have a choice: Obama or Palin.